Definition of sirenian
: any of an order (Sirenia) of aquatic herbivorous mammals (such as a manatee, dugong, or Steller's sea cow) that have large forelimbs resembling paddles, no hind limbs, and a flattened tail resembling a fin
sirenian was our Word of the Day on 07/31/2010. Hear the podcast!
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
Recent Examples of sirenian from the Web
Discovered by the German naturalist Georg Steller around the Bering Sea’s Commander Islands in 1741, this enormous and peculiar sirenian became an easy target for Russian hunters.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sirenian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Sirenian traces back via Latin to Greek seirēn, which is equivalent to our word for the sirens of Greek mythology. And what is the connection between sirens and sirenians? Modern sirenians do not resemble the half bird, half woman creatures who lured sailors to their doom with their sweet singing. But as our example sentence states, sirenians are considered by some to underlie the ancient legends about mermaids. In European folklore mermaids were sometimes called "sirens," and apparently this confusion resulted in the granting of sirenians the name they bear today.
Origin and Etymology of sirenian
New Latin Sirenia, from Latin siren
First Known Use: 1883See Words from the same year
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up sirenian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).